California’s Day Wave, aka Jackson Phillips, is dreaming up indie tracks to soundtrack your high school summers.
Previously playing as half of electro-pop pair Carousel, Jackson Phillips has taken on a new persona as Day Wave. Sending his melancholic tunes out of Oakland, Jackson teams up surf-pop percussion, cyclical riffs, shimmering synths and echoing vocals with the lyric, “what am I good for?” It blends amongst the heady mix of instrumentation to the point where you’re left wondering how to feel.
So prepare yourself for plenty of emotional confusion as Headcase, Jackson’s debut EP, is released today. Perfect timing, school’s out, sun’s up and Day Wave will no doubt be soundtracking the mood swings of teens and their raging hormones until the winter. For those of you who think you’ve grown out of that phase, prepare to fall straight back into it, having internal arguments on “Drag” and searching for yourself to the sound of “Nothing At All”. We pinned down Jackson to hear about the new EP and planned a day trip hang gliding together.
What’s your first memory of wanting to become a musician?
I remember being in third grade, listening to Smashing Pumpkins’ ‘Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness’ over and over again. I would imagine being on stage playing those songs in front of a huge audience. I think at that point I wanted to be a musician.
For those of us stuck in rainy London, can you tell us what California’s like? What’s the music scene like where you’re from?
I actually feel like a bit of an outsider in the Oakland music scene, I’ve mostly kept to myself since I moved here a year ago. But I’m slowly starting to meet some other bands, and there’s definitely some interesting music happening out here.
How do you go about writing and recording, what inspires you?
I tend to write and record at the same time. I’ll start by coming up with a chord progression on guitar, and some rough vocal melodies. Once I start recording I just collage different layers together. And as I’m building out the track I’m constantly refining the vocal melody. To stay inspired I make sure I listen to music every day. Usually I’ll go for a bike ride or walk and listen to a good chunk of an album before I go home and start working on my own music. It gets me excited to work on a song.
What’s the perfect time and place to listen to your music?
That’s a tough question, hopefully you can listen to it any time in any place.
Who do you write music for, who do you imagine is listening?
I try not to think about that too much. I just make sure I like what I’m doing, and that I would listen to it.
What’s your favourite song on your imminent EP ‘Headcase’ and why?
My favourite song is “Headcase”. It’s the one I can still listen to over and over without thinking it’s terrible. I’m definitely my own worst critic.
How have you found the switch from being part of a duo to being a solo artist so far?
I actually enjoy it a lot more. Its a lot easier because I’m not constantly second guessing my ideas when I show them to a bandmate. I feel like I can write more honestly, and stay completely true to my own taste. There’s no comprising.
You’ve garnered all sorts of hype and attention but what’s been your most surreal moment as Day Wave to date?
Zane Lowe playing my song on Beats 1 radio was pretty surreal. I really respect his musical taste. But I think getting a tweet from Mark Hoppus has been the craziest moment for me so far. He was my hero when I was a kid.
You’re about to step out on tour with Blonde Redhead, do you enjoy life on the road? Do you have any particularly memorable shows from the past or anywhere you’re especially looking forward to playing?
I’m a big fan of Blonde Redhead so this is a pretty exciting tour for me. Also, I’ve never been to Portland, Seattle, or Vancouver, so it should be a rad trip. My sister lives in Seattle and I’ve never visited her there, so I’m finally getting the chance to do that.
Despite being tinted with melancholia, everyone can feel summer coming that little bit quicker when listening to your tracks, if we came to visit, what would we do on an ideal summer day? Soundtracked by you of course!
We’d hike up Mount Tam and go hang gliding haha, just like Tony Wilson in the opening scene of ’24 Hour Party People.’
You can purchase Day Wave’s EP Headcase here.